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2027: Atiku, Obi’s alliance moves unsettle APC stalwarts

The renewed moves for an alliance or merger between the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party…

The renewed moves for an alliance or merger between the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi, have raised concerns among some leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2027 electioneering circle.

Recall that Atiku and Obi who ran together on the platform of the PDP for the presidency in 2019 went their separate ways in 2022 in a move many analysts believed paved the way for the victory of the APC in the 2023 presidential election.

Though both of them could not unseat then President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election with their 11,262,978 votes after the former president polled 15,191,847 votes, their combined vote of 13,086,053 in the 2023 election was more than the winning vote of Bola Tinubu of the APC, who got 8,794,726 votes.

The recent development perhaps informed the position of political analysts and politicians across divides that should the talks of alliance or merger being pushed by Atiku and the Professor Pat Utomi-led National Consultative Front (NCFront) materialise before the 2027 presidential election, with Obi on board, the APC may have a stronger challenge to surmount.

Atiku, who has been clamouring for a coalition of opposition parties, received some political heavyweights as visitors in Abuja in the last week. First was the visit of his running mate for the 2023 election, Ifeanyi Okowa, on May 9. Okowa had maintained a silent approach since the election, and his visit to the former VP was said to have signaled fresh permutations.

But it was the visit of Obi on Monday that more or less let out the cat from the bag. This is because Obi also visited two strong PDP leaders, Bukola Saraki and Sule Lamido, on the same day. And when Lamido, a former Jigawa State governor, himself, visited Atiku 24 hours later, observers said this only confirmed reports that it was Lamido, a strong ally of Atiku, that set the stage for Obi’s meeting with the former VP a day earlier.

While the fresh moves have been said to rattle the APC, it would be recalled that the party also earlier was rattled by talks that former Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, was working towards a coalition of interests using the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) after he held several meetings with leaders from different parties and visited the secretariat of the SDP.

Several chieftains of the APC, who spoke with Daily Trust about the latest moves involving Atiku and Obi, said the alliance talks and moves had been sending shivers down the spines of most of them, especially in view of the precarious state of the economy which had further pushed more Nigerians into the poverty zone.

“Let me tell you the truth; within the party hierarchy, this alliance is being talked about all the time, and the hope is for it to collapse like a domino before it even gets serious traction,” said a party chieftain from one of the North West states who is close to the national leadership of the APC.

He said the problem the country had found itself in with some of the policies of the government had pushed more people away from the ruling party, hence that it would be disastrous if the masses saw an Atiku/Obi alliance as a viable alternative in 2027.

“Beyond the economic realities, you know some of our leaders, especially in the North, are not happy with the president. With the exception of the NSA (Nuhu Ribadu), it’s difficult to find anyone among the top Northerners close to Mr President who doesn’t have reservations.

“Look at the situation with the national chairman (Abdullahi Umar Ganduje). You know a lot of our people believe that the Kano State Government wouldn’t have gathered the liver to do what they are doing if not for perhaps support from the top as part of the plot to edge him out. Don’t forget, some people are still not satisfied with how Nasir el-Rufai was treated by the presidency,” he said.

He added that there was the belief now that only Atiku could rally Northern votes, hence that with this, it would be suicidal for the APC to allow him to consolidate this with an alliance with Obi who had huge support in the South with his Obidient Movement.

“The argument that both (Atiku and Obi) failed in 2019 does not hold water again because of the Buhari factor in 2019. The situation is different now as evidenced by the 2023 results, where we only survived by the whiskers. The Buhari factor is no longer there for the APC in the North, and the economic realities have further eroded the little goodwill our party still enjoys in the North. So, if we joke with their alliance talks, then it may be too late by 2027,” he added.

Corroborating this view, another party chieftain from one of the Southern states observed that there was also disenchantment in the president’s stronghold in the South West, with many raising concerns about the appointments by the president going mostly to politicians from the Lagos axis.

On Tuesday, the women leaders of the party, during their protest rally to the party’s national headquarters, lamented that they had been neglected after working to deliver results for the party. They expressed grievances over their exclusion from the distribution of palliatives and appointments, accusing the party of using and abandoning them after the 2023 elections.

Citing the example of the women leaders, the party chieftain, who asked not to be named, said this was a common apprehension among party leaders across the country, hence that the success of any alliance between Atiku and Obi might turn some of them away from the party.  

Nothing to worry about — Ex-APC chair

But a former acting National Chairman of the APC, Hilliard Eta, told Daily Trust Saturday in a telephone interview that there was nothing new about Obi, Atiku and others meeting to cook a political meal, saying it was not a threat to the APC.

He said, “APC welcomes the virile, responsive and responsible opposition if, by coming together, they will be able to provide that; that will be fantastic.

“But there is nothing new about Obi, Atiku, Saraki, Lamido and others meeting. It is a PDP meeting. It has always been like that. There is nothing new.

“When Buhari and Tinubu joined forces in 2013, they were from different political platforms and political enclaves, and they came together. This one is not exactly like the one we had in 2013. So, it is not a threat to the APC.”

Also, a member of the APC National Caucus, Chief Sam Nkire, told Daily Trust in a telephone interview that defeating the APC in 2027 would be a hard nut to crack, noting that before the 2027 elections, the APC-led government would have delivered on its campaign promises and made Nigerians happy.

He said there was no vacancy for the office of president in 2027, but insisted that by 2031 power must shift to the South East.

It’s a big threat to APC if… — Analysts

But analysing the development, Aminu Yakudima, a public affairs commentator, said the opposition’s strategy to wrest power from the APC in 2027 was a big threat to the APC.

He said if the proponents of the force succeeded, the APC would be compelled to wake up from its slumber.

Similarly, a professor of political sociology at the University of Abuja, Abubakar Kari, told Daily Trust Saturday that if the internal crises in the parties involved were resolved and a strong force was formed, it would give the APC a big fight.

He, however, said the big fight would depend on the political dynamics before the 2027 elections.

He said, “I don’t think we are going to remain like this. Yes, Tinubu has not lived up to expectations, but he has spent just a year. He may change. He may perform in the next two and a half years and the story will change.”


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